If you have any affinity for felines, then Japan has some real treats from you. If you’ve already been to the cat cafes which are dotted around pretty much every major city, then why not up your game and visit a fully-fledged cat island?
If that sounds like heaven to you, then you’ll lose your mind when retell you that Japan has more than one! The island Aoshima in Ehime Prefecture is the most famous, so if you only get a chance to see one, then this is the place to go. The island is only 1.6km long, so you won’t have much trouble getting around. On it, the cats outnumber the 20-odd human residents by about 7 to 1!
These people are part of a centuries-old fishing community, who brought in the cats to help deal with a rodent problem. Little did they know that these kitty colonizers would soon take over the place, and become social media celebrities decades later.
When planning a trip to Aoshima, be aware that you won’t be spending the night, or even dining here; there are no hotels, restaurants, shops, or vending machines. Treat the locals with respect (both sapien and feline) and be sure to bring a bento box for lunch!
To get there, head to Nagahama Port, right by JR Iyo-Nagahama Station. And be sure not to miss the last ferry back, or you’ll have to curl up with the semi-feral cats until dawn (although maybe that’s not the worst fate in the world).